DCAU #285: Family Reunion

IN THIS ONE... Superman is knocked into a dystopian dimension where Jor-El and Lara survived. (Two-parter)

CREDITS: Written by Mark Millar; art by Aluir Amancio and Terry Austin.

REVIEW:
Okay Millar, I really like your DCAU work, but you've been going to the Elseworld/alt-Superman well a lot lately, and this old saw in which Superman's Kryptonian parents survive and decide to invade Earth lacks the necessary freshness. In particular, the idea that Lara is some evil genetic supremacist who has Kal and Kara surgically brainwashed is upsetting. It really needed for Professor Va-Kox to have brainwashed HER at some point. An easy fix! But even if I read between the lines, the fact it's not addressed leaves me without the proper closure. Because if you're doing a "what if" story, it's got to be coherent. That Lara is the only character to suffer "moral inversion" is suspect; it doesn't really work. By then turning Superman and Supergirl into moral vacuums makes them boring as well.

Not to say the story is otherwise a wash. The Kents' deaths and how Clark relies on Lana's friendship is poignant. The way Lex and the other villains step up to fight the invasion is pretty perfect. In a mainstream version of the story, the carnage would have been lethal and graphic, and I don't mind telling you, boring. We've seen so much of that it doesn't shock anymore. Having Earth's defenders defeated but not killed feels a little odd, however. The DCAU just can't really achieve "darkest timeline" level with its self-imposed all-ages aesthetic. The Kents do die, but we don't see it. Knowing it happened makes it horrible enough, and it's probably why it works so well.

One character that isn't corrupted is Jor-El who once again has the opportunity to send his son to Earth while what piece of Krypton remains explodes. He remains true to his character, both in behavior and theme. It was also important for Clark to fly to Smallville as soon as he arrives back on his Earth, to make sure Ma and Pa were still alive, a key ingredient in the post-Crisis Superman's make-up. Millar and Amancio didn't disappoint on that score; it's a lovely finish that underscores WHY the story was important.

IN THE MAINSTREAM COMICS: The cover to Superman Adventures #30, with Clark standing by his parents' headstones, is a tribute to similar tombstone covers like that of Superman #215 and closer to publication, Adventures of Superman #444 where the Man of Steel reacts to his parents' death in the Time Trapper's Pocket Universe. Professor Va-Kox was a Phantom Zone criminal sent there for creating genetic monsters; he first appeared in Action Comics #284 (1962).

REREADABILITY: Medium, maybe a bit more -
I question the story's foundation, but do like what was built on top of it.

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